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Laure

Why does man need a code of values?

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Darrell:

>So, why are you so committed to rationality? Why be rational at all? Why be logical?

Darrell, this kind of question, as I have been saying, does not get you very far. It is like asking a "first cause" question in physics. It is basically saying "What is the first cause of your decision to be rational?" I hold this question cannot be usefully answered, as it will lead to an infinite regress, or to a boring argument over vague terms that will eventually be expanded to the point of meaninglessness. I have tried to step thru a similar example with Victor to show how this plays out. It is a hangover from Medieaval scholasticism, and the stultifying influence of Aristotle and Plato.

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So, why are you so committed to rationality? Why be rational at all? Why be logical?

The question was addressed to Daniel, but I'll blip in on it. I think the most truthful answer I can give is, I do not know; I've been that way since I was so young, I don't really know how I got that way, though I have some memories which might be indicative of fork points in paths. For sure I'm not a truth-seeker because of some derivation from an ethical code. I was years away from trying to verbalize an ethical code when I developed that basic attitude of mind. I recall being like that when I was a kid of 3-4.

Ellen

___

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So, why are you so committed to rationality? Why be rational at all? Why be logical?

The question was addressed to Daniel, but I'll blip in on it. I think the most truthful answer I can give is, I do not know; I've been that way since I was so young, I don't really know how I got that way, though I have some memories which might be indicative of fork points in paths. For sure I'm not a truth-seeker because of some derivation from an ethical code. I was years away from trying to verbalize an ethical code when I developed that basic attitude of mind. I recall being like that when I was a kid of 3-4.

Ellen

___

Don't you think the answer is, "because it works"? Rationality best helps us to be successful in dealing with reality. (A bigger question in my mind is, "why isn't everyone rational?" :) )

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So, why are you so committed to rationality? Why be rational at all? Why be logical?

The question was addressed to Daniel, but I'll blip in on it. I think the most truthful answer I can give is, I do not know; I've been that way since I was so young, I don't really know how I got that way, though I have some memories which might be indicative of fork points in paths. For sure I'm not a truth-seeker because of some derivation from an ethical code. I was years away from trying to verbalize an ethical code when I developed that basic attitude of mind. I recall being like that when I was a kid of 3-4.

Ellen

___

Don't you think the answer is, "because it works"? Rationality best helps us to be successful in dealing with reality. (A bigger question in my mind is, "why isn't everyone rational?" :) )

Laure,

Not to the question of why I formed the habits of mind I did. It would answer the question, Why be rational if you'd like to have a certain form of life? "Because it works." But what I was trying to answer is how I ever got that way in childhood, and I really couldn't say that I know.

Ellen

___

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Sorry for the little topic detour, but Ellen, don't you think you may have adopted rationality in childhood because you found that it worked? In other words, it helped you get what you want? Much like some people learn to have a temper tantrum or to get violent if it "works" for them in childhood - if their parents cave in to their demands? Then, the hard part is for these people to unlearn that behavior when it no longer works for them as adults.

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Not to the question of why I formed the habits of mind I did. It would answer the question, Why be rational if you'd like to have a certain form of life? "Because it works." But what I was trying to answer is how I ever got that way in childhood, and I really couldn't say that I know.

"Rational" is an Objectivist buzzword, but it not the same as "according to Objectivist principles". Parasites and crooks can be very rational and succesful, it works for them too, it's just that we don't like their goals. But we can't make them unimportant by declaring them to be "irrational" (the "impotence of evil"), that is in itself not a rational idea. The pathetic villains in Atlas Shrugged are certainly not a representative sample, they are wishful fiction.

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Not to the question of why I formed the habits of mind I did. It would answer the question, Why be rational if you'd like to have a certain form of life? "Because it works." But what I was trying to answer is how I ever got that way in childhood, and I really couldn't say that I know.

"Rational" is an Objectivist buzzword, but it not the same as "according to Objectivist principles". Parasites and crooks can be very rational and succesful, it works for them too, it's just that we don't like their goals. But we can't make them unimportant by declaring them to be "irrational" (the "impotence of evil"), that is in itself not a rational idea. The pathetic villains in Atlas Shrugged are certainly not a representative sample, they are wishful fiction.

DF,

Would it be a detour to the theme of this thread to disagree with you that crooks and parasites are most certainly not “rational”? PLus, “rational” is not an Objectivist buzzword; it is a standard word in the philosophical lexicon—as is the word “objectivist” and “objectivity.”

-Victor

Edited by Victor Pross

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Darrell:

>So, why are you so committed to rationality? Why be rational at all? Why be logical?

Darrell, this kind of question, as I have been saying, does not get you very far. It is like asking a "first cause" question in physics. It is basically saying "What is the first cause of your decision to be rational?" I hold this question cannot be usefully answered, as it will lead to an infinite regress, or to a boring argument over vague terms that will eventually be expanded to the point of meaninglessness. I have tried to step thru a similar example with Victor to show how this plays out. It is a hangover from Medieaval scholasticism, and the stultifying influence of Aristotle and Plato.

Daniel and Darrell,

The Objectivst approach to "free-will" is sometimes called the 'agency theory of volition.' For greater elabortations of the relation between volition and causality, see N. Branden's The Psychology of Self-Esteem [pages 54-59]. The agency theory is also to be found in Richard Taylor's excellent Action and Purpose.

-Victor

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Not to the question of why I formed the habits of mind I did. It would answer the question, Why be rational if you'd like to have a certain form of life? "Because it works." But what I was trying to answer is how I ever got that way in childhood, and I really couldn't say that I know.

[DRAGONFLY WROTE] "Rational" is an Objectivist buzzword, but it not the same as "according to Objectivist principles". Parasites and crooks can be very rational and succesful, it works for them too, it's just that we don't like their goals. But we can't make them unimportant by declaring them to be "irrational" (the "impotence of evil"), that is in itself not a rational idea. The pathetic villains in Atlas Shrugged are certainly not a representative sample, they are wishful fiction.

Ellen,

Would it be a detour to the theme of this thread to disagree with you that crooks and parasites are most certainly not “rational”? PLus, “rational” is not an Objectivist buzzword; it is a standard word in the philosophical lexicon—as is the word “objectivist” and “objectivity.”

-Victor

OY!!! I am not the one who wrote what you're asking about, Victor. Dragonfly is. I do wish that people would post in a way so it's clearly indicated where their reply starts and the person being responded to stops, but a number of posters don't do that. In such cases it's extra needful to try to pay attention to who is saying what. Furthermore, what I actually started out answering, some posts above, was a query addressed by Darrell to Daniel, about a "commitment to rationality." I interpreted that as "being a truth-seeker." Now, the word "rationality" is being debated. You see how details of wording, and different personal implications placed on wording can lead to endless rat's nests of arguing. Dragonfly is interpreting "rational" in a way in which I wasn't thinking of it -- nor was I even thinking of it in the Objectivist buzzword fashion. I was thinking in terms of an attitude of mind of seeking the truth. I've had that attitude since I was too young to have connected it to instrumental goals.

Answering Laure: Later, yes, I could begin to see practicality in the attitude. There was even an incident in 1st grade where I specifically worked out that it was dumb to lie because then I'd end up having to remember the lie and telling other lies to cover for it and on and on, a waste. But what I was originally getting at is that the attitude started in so early of beginnings I cannot say what they were.

I hope that's clear now.

Ellen

Edit: Speaking of tracking who's saying what, I first wrote "Daniel to Darrell." It was the reverse.

___

Edited by Ellen Stuttle

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Darrell:

>So, why are you so committed to rationality? Why be rational at all? Why be logical?

Darrell, this kind of question, as I have been saying, does not get you very far. It is like asking a "first cause" question in physics. It is basically saying "What is the first cause of your decision to be rational?" I hold this question cannot be usefully answered, as it will lead to an infinite regress, or to a boring argument over vague terms that will eventually be expanded to the point of meaninglessness. I have tried to step thru a similar example with Victor to show how this plays out. It is a hangover from Medieaval scholasticism, and the stultifying influence of Aristotle and Plato.

Daniel,

It may be a stultifying question, but it is exactly the question that you have been trying to get me answer on Dragonfly's thread.

True, it leads to an infinite regress if you try to answer it deductively. You can't deduce the need to be logical within a system of logic. You have to step outside of it.

One way to step outside of the logical system is to view the question as an ethical question. Why be logical? Because logical thought is instrumental to life. If I am rational, I maximize my odds of survival.

Then the question becomes, why try to live? One answer is, there may be no fundamental reason to choose to live, but I am faced with the choice between life and death, and so long as I choose to live, being logical is my best choice. That isn't really an answer to the question, "Why live?", but it is a justification for my choice to be rational if I choose to live.

Another (related) way to step outside of the logical system is to note that rationality is the only condition that is consistent with my nature as a rational being.

Darrell

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Darrell, Good post, and I agree with you. Just as any random action will NOT result in a man’s physical well-being, so any random action will not result in a man’s psychological welfare. The laws of psychology are just as real as the laws of biology. Of course a man is free to pursue a destructive course—but men are not free to escape its physical consequences. Ethics is concerned with man’s life as whole, and it evaluates particular actions within that whole. This is the purpose of ethics as a study: man’s survival, well-being. Regarding this whole “ultimate value” (the ‘why survive’ issue) --I put forward: HAPPINESS. (I may be going out on a branch here). :)

Victor

Edited by Victor Pross

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Good post, Darrell. (We must think alike, because your posts always seem so sensible to me!)

Perhaps, because my post are ... er ... um ... logical? :wink: Sorry, I couldn't resist. But, it is nice to know that I am in the company of other intelligent, thinking people.

Darrell

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I put forward: HAPPINESS. (I may be going out on a branch here).

Victor, I feel you're succumbing to the Borg. Happiness is the correct psychological end, but, being an emotion, it doesn't make for a very good metaphysical end-in-itself. Happiness is the psychological concomitant of life as a rational being, the correct metaphysical end-in-itself.

Darrell

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A summary:

A, man’s conceptual capacity is his ability to think in terms of principles.

B, man’s volition necessitates that he think in terms of principles

C, man’s purposiveness determines the content of those principles.

BTW, the notion of principles is critically important to the argument about why a person cannot flip flop between being an upstanding member of the community and a criminal. It is difficult to analyze every situation in depth, so a person relies on his principles to decide what to do in particular instances.

Darrell

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So, why are you so committed to rationality? Why be rational at all? Why be logical?
The question was addressed to Daniel, but I'll blip in on it. I think the most truthful answer I can give is, I do not know; I've been that way since I was so young, I don't really know how I got that way, though I have some memories which might be indicative of fork points in paths. For sure I'm not a truth-seeker because of some derivation from an ethical code. I was years away from trying to verbalize an ethical code when I developed that basic attitude of mind. I recall being like that when I was a kid of 3-4.

But why continue to be rational?

Being a truth seeker is a good thing. Being rational is a good thing. And, I applaud your positive mental habits. But if you can't relate rationality to ethics, you can't defend your mental habits.

Darrell

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Yes, Darrel, you are making some good connections here. It is not enough for a person to know only the abstract role of principles in human survival—in some “abstract academic way”—one must be able to, as I said, to determine concretely, within the context of one’s own life, how to achieve the values required for one’s physical and mental well-being.

The issue of ethics—or philosophy for that matter--is not to see whose helium balloon constructs can fly higher, it is not a rubric to be fumbled with over and over with no end in mind, making philosophy an end itself. Ethics is for the living on earth. That’s what Rand was about.

I'm glad you're here! :)

-Victor

Edited by Victor Pross

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Parasites and crooks can be very rational and succesful ...

Just stating that over and over won't make it true.

Darrell,

This appears to be a quibble over an incomplete statement. There is an enormous difference in the two following completions, which I believe, respectively, represent Dragonfly's approach and yours.

1. Parasites and crooks can be very rational and successful in pursuing and achieving their goals.

2. Parasites and crooks can be very rational and successful in formulating and promoting a reason-based universal standard for ethics.

The first statement is true (Dragonfly is correct). The second statement is false (you are correct).

Michael

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So, why are you so committed to rationality? Why be rational at all? Why be logical?
The question was addressed to Daniel, but I'll blip in on it. I think the most truthful answer I can give is, I do not know; I've been that way since I was so young, I don't really know how I got that way, though I have some memories which might be indicative of fork points in paths. For sure I'm not a truth-seeker because of some derivation from an ethical code. I was years away from trying to verbalize an ethical code when I developed that basic attitude of mind. I recall being like that when I was a kid of 3-4.

But why continue to be rational?

Being a truth seeker is a good thing. Being rational is a good thing. And, I applaud your positive mental habits. But if you can't relate rationality to ethics, you can't defend your mental habits.

Darrell

Darrell,

This conversation is getting really out of whack in terms of what I was answering and what apparently you were asking. I guess I misunderstood your initial question, being thrown off by the word "committed." I interpreted that as asking about a deep emotional attitude, something far deeper than instrumental issues. Sure, I could give instrumental reasons why I consider "being rational," as I think of that, a "good thing," in the sense of being useful to the achievement of an emotionally satisfying life (which is what I think of ethics as for). But I wasn't talking about instrumental reasons (in order to get X, Y, Z). As to "defend[ing]" my mental habits. To whom? I don't have any worries about them internally. And insofar as I know, I'm not on trial.

Ellen

___

Edited by Ellen Stuttle

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Darrell:

>You can't deduce the need to be logical within a system of logic. You have to step outside of it. One way to step outside of the logical system is to view the question as an ethical question.

Well, here you are saying that ethics is in fact outside of the domain of logic. I agree. So we're now on the same page, which is always encouraging.

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